Monday, August 29, 2011

What I'm Reading

I'm reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988). He packs a lot into every enjoyable paragraph. So far it is very entertaining. I'm also reading, as a palate cleanser between chapters, a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury titled A Medicine for Melancholy (1959). So far my favorite is the story "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit", about six poor guys who save up to buy a white suit so they can take turns walking around like big shots.

My manuscript is coming along nicely. Lots of characters and sub-plots and other shenanigans.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dante's Inferno, Corporate Edition

I'm reading THE INFERNO (Dante Alighieri), which is Dante's (the Pilgrim Dante, not the Poet) tour of the nine circles of hell, lead by the poet Virgil. Reading it now, with all the B.S. going on in our country, I can imagine some of the well-healed criminals from today spending eternity in some of these places. The book describes sins and the punishment for those sins:
  • gluttony (the obesity epidemic)
  • usury (Wall Street/Banks)
  • avarice/greed (Wall Street, Corporate Tax Evaders, Congress)
  • thieves (Wall Street, Congress, War Profiteers)
  • hypocrites (Democrats, Republicans, Politicians, the Media and probably most people, myself included)
  • fraudulent counselors (Wall Street, the ratings agencies, Fox News/MSNBC/Network News/Pharma Commercials)
  • sowers of scandal and schism (Fox News, MSNBC, network news in general, the compromised media)
  • Falsifiers (Congress, Wall Street, Politicians) etc.
I'm kind of cynical these days, and alas, all of the characters ruining our country will be able to avoid these exquisite tortures because there is no hell, but if there was, I'd love to see some of these suits buried upside-down in filth, with their feet set on fire, but that's probably not going to happen.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Plan: An Idea for a Science Fiction Story?

I have an idea for a Science Fiction story. It's pretty far-fetched and out-there, and it goes something like this:

First, a shadowy group of Oligarchs takes over the government by installing their own employees in all the halls of power. Congress, the Fed, the White House, the Pentagon, everywhere. The regulatory agencies are all managed by Corporate shills, who gut and de-claw those angencies. Public Schools and Social Programs are almost completely de-funded. This is all part of:

THE PLAN!

Unemployment is purposely driving up. Wages stagnate. All the jobs are moved to other countries until the Fat American realizes that he better be ready to work for peanuts. The Oligarchs want to make people so desperate for jobs, they'll work as cheaply as they do in India and China and all the other shit-holes in the world. But first, they have to make the United States as shitty as those other countries.

But how do they keep the people pacified in the meantime? Easy. They bribe them with shiny gadgets, because humans have already devolved into mouth-breathing primates who are distracted by anything shiny, boobies, and cheap beer. Bread and Circuses are delivered via huge screens. Men fight in cages. Cameras are put into dysfunctional families for entertainment. The people are given, I don't know, fancy communication devices of some sort. The Oligarchs jack everyone into a huge network of computers, where they observe everything the people are thinking. And, I know this sounds crazy, the people actually supply all the information themselves! They tell the security services, who monitor everything, who they associate with, where they go, what they do, their primitive political ideas (mostly regurgitated talking points from the propaganda screens) Meanwhile, some sort of large screen is installed in every household, and the Oligarchs brainwash everyone into buying more and more things they can't afford, so they go into debt, making them basically indentured servants. But the people don't KNOW they're practically slaves, because they have some song, and at the very end, it goes "LAND OF THE FREE! AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE!" So the slaves think they are free (because it's in the song)! It's far-fetched I know, but stick with me here.

So in order to keep everybody in line, they have these perpetual wars. And the defense contractors promise the high-ranking generals all sorts of lucrative jobs when they get out, so the generals know they got a good thing waiting for them, as long as they tell the President (Who is also a lobbyists, no matter who wins—see below) that they have to keep these wars going on forever! I know that was done in the book 1984, but it works so well, I might as well re-hash it huh? And in the name of Security, the Secret Police X-Ray everybody and sometimes they stick their fingers up Grandma's butt before they let her travel. The Secret Police, who only exist to protect the merchant class, go around strung out on Steroids and electrocute people for any infraction, because it's fun.

And the people will be dumbed-down in shitty schools that don't teach anything except standardized tests, which the Oligarchs put in place to occupy the time in the schools so no one learns oh, I don't know, civics, political theory, how their government is supposed to work, how compound interest works or any other useful thing. And the colleges just turn everybody into sweaty alcoholics with STDs who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt, making them slightly skilled indentured servants right out of college! Brilliant!

So the people, who have no Social Security, Medicare, none of that stuff, are basically starving to death, but the Oligarchs fatten them up on some kind of corn mash, some sort of syrup that the liver can't actually process, and it makes everybody all fat and stupid, so people sit at their screens all day giving information to the Security Services, who can do almost anything in the name of SECURITY because of the constant war with invisible enemies.

Pretty crazy idea for a SF story huh?

So although there are two parties (all of them employed directly by the Oligarchs), both parties put on this show like they hate each other, but really they are all employees of the same groups of Oligarchs, so the people choose one side or the other to cheer for, and they HATE the people who identify with the other side. They use wedge issues and scapegoats and religious bullshit to keep both sides hating each other. Both sides use all kind of slick programming to make the people think that every problem facing the country is some kind of false dichotomy, where there can only be one right answer, out of a total number of two possible answers, both supplied by the two parties, who are really just working together to keep the people divided into two groups, to keep them hating each other instead of paying attention to the politicians who are fattening them up and driving them to more desperation, in order to finally be able to:

Open work houses! Once the people are so desperate for jobs, with no security net whatsoever, every morning every "able bodied" man and woman will crowd outside the gates of any factory that is built. With no unions and no workers rights, products will be manufactured for next to nothing. Work conditions be damned, people haven't worked for so long, they'll bust ass all day for a dollar and hour. Perfect! They can use the slightly skilled college grads to manage the mouth-breathing Eloi, who will manufacture things (finally) in order to purchase cheap beer and watch horrible movies on their One Day Off, which they will spend in Government Churches, where they will be taught Obedience and The Power of The Invisible Hand.

Meh, this is too far-fetched for a story.

About Me

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I am the author of 8 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, Brain Giblets, The Cubicles of Madness, Booze and News, Get Your Zen On, Zen Happens, and most recently, Robot Stories. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at danmanning.com

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